ASUC Senate urges ban of Salvation Army donation boxes

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The ASUC Senate is urging campus administrators to ban Salvation Army donation boxes from campus buildings, citing discrimination against the queer community.

The senate unanimously passed legislation on Nov. 28 claiming that the Salvation Army, a nonprofit charity organization, discriminates against homosexuals. The bill — SB 175 — calls for the removal of Salvation Army donation boxes and urges campus administration to replace the boxes with bins from another charitable organization.

“It’s the holiday season, (and) the Salvation Army gets a lot of attention at this time of the year,” said CalSERVE Senator Nolan Pack, who introduced the bill to the ASUC. “And many from the (LGBT) community were disappointed with that choice.”

The bill cited research published by gay rights activist Dan Savage, which claimed that Salvation Army soup kitchens and shelters discriminate against homosexuals. CalSERVE Communications Director Matthew Enger, who authored the bill, also said some money generated by the Salvation Army goes toward anti-LGBT lobbying.

Salvation Army donation boxes the have been placed in residence halls for a number of years, according to Marty Takimoto, director of communications and marketing for Residential and Student Services Programs. Takimoto said RSSP is looking into the ASUC’s claims and is waiting to hear back from the Salvation Army on the matter.

“Any claims regarding discriminatory behavior we take very seriously,” Takimoto said. “If the allegations do prove to be true and we have questions about supporting such an organization, we would remove the boxes before spring semester.”

According to George Hood, the national community relations secretary for the Salvation Army, the allegations of discrimination are untrue and poorly researched. He said proceeds from resold donations go directly to Salvation Army rehabilitation centers, not to government lobbying.

“Our whole history, the foundation of the Salvation Army … is to meet human need without discrimination,” Hood said. “We may not always agree on some of these topics … but if you’re not willing to respect the fact that there can be a difference of opinion on core values … then it’s very difficult to work through the issues.”

The bill was co-sponsored by more than 20 student representatives and groups, including the Cal Berkeley Democrats and Queer Alliance and Resource Center.

“I knew that it would be a bill that would help unify the queer community behind this issue,” Enger said.

SB 175 calls for ASUC President Connor Landgraf and Executive Vice President Justin Sayarath to send a letter to Chancellor Birgeneau and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande requesting the removal of Salvation Army donation bins and the discontinuation of business with the organization. The bill also urges the student leaders to email the student body about the ASUC’s decision.

The campus could not be reached for comment on this issue.

“What I’m hoping for is an agreement from the administration to choose a different organization in the future,” Pack said. “We are pretty late into the holiday season and the semester … but what I am hoping is that this bill will set a precedent and make the administration aware (of this issue).”

Contact Libby Rainey at [email protected]